Welcome To Bean Town!

Earlier this month I went to Boston for a few days. It was my first time in Boston, and I had a great time. It was a fantastic trip, and I definitely recommend that everyone visit there at some point!

I left for Boston early Sunday morning. I landed at Logan Airport and made my way to South Station in the downtown area, where I met up with Sally, Michelle, and Moxie. Jennifer was also planning to come to Boston for a couple of days, but was, unfortunately, unable to make it. Next time! We went to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (yum!) and headed to Harvard Square, where we took in the atmosphere, and wandered around some shops.

That evening we split up, and Moxie and I went to the Paradise Rock Club to see Death Cab for Cutie. The concert was amazing! I’m so happy I was finally able to see them live! The venue was very small, and general admission, but we got there early and nabbed perfect seats.

On Monday Moxie wasn’t feeling well, so I headed in to the city solo to meet up with Sally and Michelle. We started the day off with the Swan Boats in the Public Garden. Inexpensive, fun, and different!

We then wandered through the Boston Common, saw the start of the Freedom Trail, City Hall, King’s Chapel Burying Ground, and then grabbed lunch. That afternoon we walked down to the harbour and to visit the aquarium. It was so much fun! We saw penguins, turtles, and fishes. Oh my! We even made a few friends!

Later that afternoon we saw a film about whales at the aquarium’s Imax theatre. Meh. We then walked back to South Station and said our goodbyes for the day. I took the train back to Harvard Square and decided to have a better look at Harvard.

After that I continued on back to Moxie’s house, where we ate dinner and I spent the evening being thoroughly entertained by the comedy stylings of Benjamin and Miranda!

Very early Tuesday morning I set out for Sally and Michelle’s apartment. I dropped my stuff off, and we headed out for a day trip to Salem. It was a long, but fun filled day!

Our bus driver, Bob, spent a large portion of the drive there pointing out spots where people he knew (but never actually him) had met or seen celebrities. He stopped first at an island that had a lovely spot called Castle Rock, and numerous Adam Sandler anecdotes. At Castle Rock Michelle and I were the only souls in whole tour group brave enough to hike up the rock. Thankfully we were rewarded with a great view!

The next stop on the way to Salem was at Abbott Hall, home of “Spirit of ’76”. Being that none of us are American, we didn’t have the slightest clue what any of this was. But, by the end of our short time there, at least one of us had felt it. 😉

Oh, and Sally also wedged herself between two houses at this stop (Bob is to blame for this, honestly):

We finally made it to Salem! We had lunch and then toured The House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s home, the Salem Witch Museum, and the Salem Dungeon. Our driver, Bob, seemed to adore us and drove us around Salem throughout the day (as well as two other couples). The other 20-something tour goers had to find their own way around. We were quite thrilled with our luck!

It was a long bus ride home, as we hit rush hour, but we eventually made it back. We spent the evening gorging on pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts (Boston Cream!), Diet Coke, and watching Nancy Grace. We also did a photo shoot in out awesome shirts from Jennifer Eolin’s Cafe Press Store!

On Wednesday we headed back to the Boston Common area for lunch at Fajita’s and Ritas, which was delicious. Next door we found an awesome book shop, in an alley way!

We then headed for the post office where I discovered just how inexpensice USPS is (or just how expensive Canada Post really is…) for any sort of international shipment. I sent parcels to the US, Australia, UK, and Finland for a grand total of… $9. What?! Yes, I’m sure no one needs to hear my glee over the cheapness of a post office visit, but, c’mon! $9! Still floored by this! (For reference, this would have cost me at least $40 at home)

Anyway! Moving on!

We then headed to the mall. To buy shoes. We really know how to live it up, we know! It was then time for me to head home. Sigh. I made my way back to the airport, and, eventually, got home.

I can definitely see another Boston trip in the future. Good food, shopping, and plenty of sights that we weren’t able to fit in. Yes, Boston 2012 is a must, I think!

New York City, 2011

This may not be a first trip to New York, but it’s a first blog about it!

I had a great time this past weekend. I left horribly early Friday morning, but was sitting in a coffee shop in Manhattan by 10:30am. All was right with the world.

I soon after met up with Vi and tagged along as she ran some errands. One of said errands was in Limelight, which I’d never been to before. It’s an old church that’s been turned into a shopping centre. Very strange, but very cool. We also went to a Japanese restaurant for lunch.

That evening we headed to Times Square, grabbed dinner with a couple of Vi’s friends, and then went to see American Idiot. The show was excellent, as always, and after we were given a backstage tour by one of the cast members. Very surreal.

On the stage:

With Christina (Cast member/Tour guide!):

After the show we decided to do what any one who has been running around all day and has not slept the night before does: We caught a midnight movie. The King’s Speech. It was fantastic.

On Saturday we had a bit of a lazy morning and then headed out for lunch. At 2pm we saw a play at a tiny off Broadway theatre, called Three Sister’s. It was starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard. The show was quite long, and a bit confusing, but we enjoyed it.

Classic Stage Company:

After the show we headed back to Times Square and got dinner. That night we boarded a subway and went to Long Island City. The is probably the sketchiest part of New York I’ve ever seen! Lots of barbed wire fences, chained up doors, and boarded up windows. Also, all of the cross streets we passed had the same name. Seriously, weird.

Why were we wandering around Long Island City? We were going to see the awesome and uber talented funny lady, Jennifer Eolin perform in the Long Island City Theatre Festival. It was so nice to meet Jennifer, and she was great in the show!

With Jennifer after the show:

After the show we headed back to Vi’s place and I tried my very first bacon brownie. It… Did not go well. Heh. At least now I know, such things are not for me. I love bacon, and I love brownies, but I’ll continue to keep them separate.

On Sunday we got up early and headed to Penn Station to pick up Sara, who had come in from Long Island for the day. After (finally!) finding her, Vi headed back to the apartment to get her forgotten wallet, and Sara and I headed to Brooklyn for lunch with her friends Jessica and Courtney. That afternoon we headed back in to the city, found Vi at the St. James, and then got dinner.

Sara in Brooklyn:

Back in the city:

That evening we went to the Rockwood Music Hall where we saw one good band (NICKCASEY), one fantastic band (Jones Street Station), and lastly, the ever awesome John Gallagher Jr.

Myself, Vi, and Sara and Rockwood:

Jones Street Station:

Johnny:

Sara headed out to catch her train back to Long Island around 1am. Or, so we thought… Poor thing missed the train and was trapped at Penn Station all night. As my phone doesn’t work without wifi, and Vi’s phone died, we didn’t learn this until the following morning. So sorry, Sara!

On Monday morning I slept in a bit, got ready, and then headed off the airport around noon. I would up on an express train, once again, and was at the airport quite early. I’d rather be early than late, of course! I was just surprised to have gotten express trains both ways!

Anyway, there was some drama at the airport. Delays, cancellation of delays, more delays, gate changes. We left late, but got in to Buffalo early. Oh, JetBlue.

Canadians For A Saner America

I spent late October in Washington D.C. and had such a great time! I saw all the sites, got to see lots of friends, and spent two glorious hours with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

I flew into Dulles, and the ever awesome Vi came to pick me. We drove into the city and found Pippa sitting on the steps of that Air and Space Museum, after which we all went out lunch. Vi drove us around to do a bit of sightseeing, and then dropped Pippa and I off at the Canadian Embassy so we could ask about getting into the White House. We then went to the Museum of Natural History, and then to find Emily, who was sweet enough to let us stay with her. When she finished work we all went for dinner in China Town, and then headed back to her place.

Day two was Pippa and I’s epic sightseeing day. We took the train in with Emily, and she went off to work. After grabbing some wifi time at Starbucks we started our journey. The first stop…

The White House

We then headed towards the National Mall.

Vietnam War Memorial (and National Monument):

Lincoln Memorial:

National Monument:

We later ran in to the setup for the Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear (and the Capital Building):

Capital Hill:

That day we also had lunch and wandered around the National Museum of the American Indian. We couldn’t get into the Capital Building, but we spent some time in the visitor’s centre and little museum they have there. We also went to the National Archives and saw the constitution.

Day Two was the Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear. Pippa, Emily, and I headed into the city bright and early to get a spot. There were already thousand of people there. Thankfully we found Moxie, who had scored some awesome seats, and let us share her space. We then buckled down and waiting the four or so hours until the Rally Started.

Jon, Stephen, and Anderson Cooper’s Tiny T-Shirt:

Stephen, and puppet Stephen:

After the Rally we then wandered for a while trying to find Sara. She took the Huffington Post bus from New York City and missed the Rally. As the Huff Bus plan turned out to be horrible.

And we finally found her in Union Station! Sara and I’s group costume was complete! Jane and Daria:

We then wandered, found food, and saw Sara off to the bus station.

On my last day, I drove with Emily and Pippa to see Pippa off at the airport. Emily and I drove back in to the city where I met back up with Vi. We drove around and saw some last minute sights.

Washington National Cathedral:

View from the top of the cathedral:

We got lunch and then drove around a bit more. Saw Georgetown, went into the Kennedy Centre, and then headed back to the airport.

So, yeah. It was a really great trip.

Land of the Fin

Apologies if the following post is less coherent than usual. It’s 4am and I’m sitting in the London airport waiting to fly home. I just flew here from Finland, which was great.

On Thursday night I boarded a ferry from Stockholm, Sweden to Turku, Finland. It was a 12 hour ride and the ferry had sleeper cabins, which was great. Well, until I realized that my room was directly under a night club! But, I chose the cheapest option, so, I got what I paid for.

Raisa and Mikko, my wonderful hosts, picked me up at at the boat terminal at the horrific hour of 7am. They drove quite a distance to get there, so I am quite grateful! The took me into Turku and we wanderd the town a bit. I tried an ATM and discovered my bank card works! Huzzah! And then we went and toured a very cool castle:

On Saturday morning they showed me around the village where they’re living. It is really lovely!

On Saturday we drove 3 hours to Helsinki. We stopped for dinner at a restaurant called Grandma’s (well, the Finnish word!) and I had delicious meatballs and mashed potatoes. Yum. Once we got into the city we dropped our bags off at the hotel and went to see a movie. Vaihtamalla paranee. Also known as The Switch. They have assigned seating in movie theatres. Crazy!

On Sunday Raisa and Mikko had to be somewhere so I did a bit of sightseeing on my own. I took a tram around and saw a lot of city. It’s so beautiful!

After that we all went to dinner, and then they were kind enought to drive me to the airport. My flight ended up delayed for about two hours, but I was fine with that. Meant two hours less at the next airport! Where I now sit.

I want to do a bit of a final post. But I’m way too tired to think of what I want to write! So, that’s coming. Thank you to everyone for continuing to read!

Stockholm

So, as you may or may not know, Stockholm did not get off to the best start.

When I left Paris Monday morning, I was having trouble with my Visa card. This had happened at the beginning of the trip, so I didn’t think much of it. I ran to an ATM and paid the hotel in cash. But, when I arrived at my hostel in Stockholm at around 9pm, my card still wasn’t working. Frustrated, I dragged my luggage down the dark streets in search of an ATM, as I had to pay up front. After receiving error messages on 2 ATMs I began to panic. No working Visa or debit card is not good! I got back to the hostel and called Visa. He started telling me about a $2500 charge to an online gambling site, and $1200 to Virgin Atlantic, charges that morning at Macys, and the day before in San Juan. “Yeah, those aren’t mine…” So, my card was cancelled. I asked why my debit wasn’t working and he said I’d reached my daily limit. Okay, fine. I explained the situation to the hostel, gave them all the cash I had, and they agreed to let me pay the remainder the following day.

Well, the following day I went back to the ATM and received a message saying ‘Invalid Card’. So, I went to another bank. Another similar message. The same at a third. And finally the fourth, where it simply read “Call Your Bank”. Faaaantastic. I’d given most of my money to the hostel, couldn’t pay them the remainder, and had no clue how to access money. I ran back to the hostel and called TD. They said they couldn’t help me because there was no issue with my account. It must have been my card or the machines here. She apologized and hung up. So, I frantically called my mom at would would gave been around 4 or 5am her time, freaking out that I had no access to money.

Thank goodness for Western Union. My mom wired me some money and I was able to eat at pay for somewhere to stay. I still don’t have any working money, but I think I have enough cash to make it through the rest of my trip. Sadly, I’ll need to cut back on the steak and wine ;).

But, by day 3 things were calm and I was actually able to get out an see Stockholm! I took a boat tour and wandered around Old Town. It was so pretty:

Today I spent the morning walking around the city, and this afternoon I’m killing time before going to catch my ship to Finland. My last stop! I can’t believe I’ll be home in 5 days. Very excited!

A Canadian In Paris

Alright! Slowly catching up on my blogging. I spent this past weekend in the fabulous city of Paris. I took the train up for Barcelona, which was very nice, and arrived Friday evening. I stayed at a cute little hotel around the opera house, and it was the perfect location! I was close to 3 different subway stations, could walk to lots of sights and shops, and the price was right.

It was close to dark by the time I arrived, so I went out to grab some food, and then called it a night. Saturday, however, was quite busy! I took the metro to the Eiffel Tower, walked to the Arc de Triompe, then the Louve, and finally took the metro back up to the opera house where I spent a good couple hours wandering around:

On Sunday I opted to go somewhere in Paris I’d never been before: Euro Disney! (Or Disneyland Paris as it’s now known):

Disney was fun. I’m glad I went. It was pretty much a smaller version of Magic Kingdom in Florida. Similar set up and rides. Space Mountain is actually much better at this one!

Anyway! It was a very short time in Paris, but I’m glad I went!

From Paris I flew to Stockholm, which has been interesting. Will explain that one in my next post.

The Rain In Spain Falls Mainly On The Plain…

I don’t know if this is true. It was sunny the entire time I was there!

Barcelona is a pretty cool city. It and I didn’t get off on the right foot (I was assaulted by some pickpockets about 30 seconds after getting there), but day 2 onwards was lovely. I did a 2 day hop on, hop off bus tour, which I highly recommend for anyone ever going to Barcelona. It was a great deal . The bus ran 3 lines, took about 5 hours if you were to stay on it non stop, and the tickets were valid for 48 hours. You get a really great feel for the city, and are free to get on and off as you please. Some pic from on the bus tour:

That’s mainly how I spent day 2 and 3 exploring the city. On my last full day, on the advice of the fabulous Sara, I took a day trip to Montserrat. It was incredible! There’s a monestary built into the side of these spectacular mountains. I took a cable car up to the monestary, went to a neat little art gallery they have up there, and then hiked around the area for a few hours:

So, completely ignoring Day 1 of Barcelona, it was a very nice trip.

Up next: Paris!

Belfast, Redux

I’m having a bit of a lazy evening in Barcelona, so I figured it’s a good time to blog!

Last Wednesday I made the long journey (12 hours!) from Venice to Belfast. I got up and ready at the horrific hour of 5am, walked through Venice to the Grand Canal to catch a boat bus to the bus terminal. I then spent half an hour wandering around the terminal trying to figure out how to get tickets (the office was closed) and where the bus was. I spent 2 hours on a bus to the airport where I learned my bag was too heavy, and I wan’t allowed to check in unless I paid 70 Euros. So, I threw anything I possibly could away. I figured, if I can replace it for under 70 Euros, than it’s worth it. I then went down to the worlds smallest terminal (1 tiny room that housed 4 gates. Ridiculous!) in which there were already 2 groups of passengers waiting on delayed flights. Granted, this is an airport entirely run by Ryanair, so, I shouldn’t have been surprised! I sat there for hours, until well after the plane was supposed to leave, never hearing a word (or even seeing) anyone who worked there. Eventually the plane showed up and we flew the two hours to Dublin. At the Dublin Airport I was stuck in immigration for an hour, thought I lost my passport at baggage claim, and got lost trying to find the bus terminal. After an hour of waiting at the bus terminal the bus for Belfast arrived! That took another 3 hours. But, I finally made it to Belfast! I walk about 15 minutes through the city centre to Orla’s apartment and wait in front of her door (she was at work still, and I was stealing her Internet from in the hall!). Her room mate arrived home, says hello to me, and then leaves me in the hallway. I don’t think she likes me very much! No worries though, Orla soon got home, we went inside, and I collapsed on her couch.

See, this is why I hate the travelling bit of travelling! Granted, I did have the worst possible experience 2 days ago upon arriving in Barcelona. Ugh.

Moving on… I had a wonderful time back in Belfast! On Wednesday night we went to see Iron & Wine in concert. The show was graet, but the people sitting around us were not. He also didn’t play Boy With A Coin, which upset me a little bit… 😉

After the concert we took in some of the sights on the way back to Orla’s apartment. Such as…

The big mosaic fish:

And the big iron lady holding a hula hoop:

On Thursday when Orla was at work I filled up my backpack with all my clothes, hopped on a train across town, and did some laundry. Exciting! It was actually a pretty good time. At one point this very strange man saw the Canada flag on my pack and started asking me questions like: “Is Canada that wee country by Australia?”, “Is Canada dear?”, “What is the current unemployment rate?” and “Does Facebook exist in Canada?” It was just like I was at work! As soon as he left the girl working there ran over to me and asked what he was saying. I told her and she started going on about all the crazy things he’s said to her in the past, and we had a good laugh. Apparently he has plans to take over the UK, build his own exclusive hospital, and produce his own line of rainbow fake eyelashes. After that a really nice girl from Texas came in and we started chatting. She got a job in Belfast and just arrived. I’m so jealous of her! It’s such an awesome city.

That night Orla and I went to dinner and then to see Modest Mouse in concert. What an amazing show! They are so great live!

Sadly, after, we had to walk home in the rain…

On Friday when Orla was at work I went into town. I needed some things, and then decided to do a bit of window shopping. Big mistake! It turns out when I haven’t been shopping in a month, it kind of builds up. I did tough it out though! But a few things, but not a lot. And only from H&M. Which it turns out I am totally in love with over here! I really don’t like the store in St. Catharines. It smells and is too expensive and rarely has anything I like. Here, totally different story!

Orla got off work a bit early, so we went to grab a late lunch, and that evening saw Wilco!

On Saturday Orla, one of her roomates (not the one who left me in the hall!): Lisa, and I did a hop on, hop off bus tour around Belfast. It was a pretty good tour. Went to the Titanic Quarter, lots of different historical places relating to The Troubles, Parliament, downtown. We saw quite a lot!

Storment Castle (on Parliament grounds) and Parliament:

One of that many, many murals located around Belfast that reference The Troubles:

Cave Hill (This was the inspiration for Gulliver’s Travels, as the mountain shape resembles a mans face):

I can’t quite remember what we did on Sunday. Not much, I guess! Orla made me an Irish breakfast called an Ulster Fry. It was delicious! I think we just went into town and looked for shoes, actually! And then we went for dinner. And I came back and packed, which took hours.

And then I left bright and early Monday morning and am now in Barcelona! Just to clear up, I am actually having a wonderful time here, despite the horrificness of Monday. I know not everyone knows what I’m talking about, but I’ll save that fun story for my next blog.

Thanks for reading!

Postcards From Italy

Hello!

I feel like I’m falling a bit behind on the blogging. Although I don’t think I’m any farther behind than usual.

Anyway! I spent Sunday to Wednesday of this past week in Venice. What an incredible city! I’ve seen pictures, but nothing really does it justice. The entire island feels like a maze of narrow stone streets and canals. I got lost at least twice every day I was there!

I arrived Sunday afternoon and started to make my way to my B&B. There’s no cars on the island, so I caught a boat bus up the grand canal. I found the correct stop easily enough, but then managed to get myself completely lost on what should have been a 5 minute walk from the bus stop to thw B&B. It took me about an hour! Some roads were closed off because of a boating even taking place, and I got completely turned around. I don’t mind being lost. It just becomes painful when I have 30 kilos of stuff hanging off of me!

I finally found my B&B, settled in, and spent the next couple days exploring, visiting sites, and eating gelato!

San Marco:

The Grand Canal:

Rialto Bridge:

I had a nice time in Venice. It was leaving where I ran into issue! It took hours to get to the airport, which turned out to be an exclusive Ryanair airport. Ugh. It turns out that I needed to upgrade if I wanted a normal luggage weight limit. Umm, what? So, I had to throw out 3 kilos worth of stuff in the arrivals area, or else have to pay 60 Euros. I got that straightened out, and then had some ussue with the flight. It was 15 minutes after our departure time, the board said ‘On Time’ and there was no one from the airline anywhere in sight. Oh, Ryanair.

I eventually made it to Dublin, and then hoped a bus to Belfast. and, finally, after 12 hours of travelling, collapsed on Orla’s couch!

Hmm, I think I spent most of this post complaining about getting to and from Venice, rather than on Venice. Oh well. Pretty pictures will suffice, right?

Climb Every Mountain

Okay, so I didn’t climb every mountain. But I did climb one! I’ll get to that in a moment.

First of all, let me just say that I am completely in love with Austria. I’m sitting on a train as I type this on my way to Italy and every time I look out I see a new breathtaking view. This is without a doubt the most beautiful place I have ever visited. Every village looks like something out of a storybook. Adorable little German homes surrounded by the greenest grass, and a backdrop of snow capped mountains. It’s almost sickening how perfect it all looks! Anyway, I’ll start at the very beginning. A very good place to start…

From Prague I took the train to Salzburg. Salzburg has been absolutely amazing! On Thursday I got here in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day wandering around the old section of the city. The weather was perfect and it was a wonderful first glimpse of the city.

 

On Friday I took a bus to Berchtesgaden, Germany. The weather wasn’t perfect, it was quite cloudy, but it was unreal all the same! I started the day off with a two hour boat trek around lake Konigssee, which was so, so beautiful. At the opposite end of the lake from where we started we were able to get off and hike around a bit. I took a trail up to lovely lake and waterfall.

On the boat:

Hiking around the lake:

In the afternoon I went up the road a bit to Jennerbahn. There I was able to take a cable car up about 6000 feet to the top of Mount Jenner. Now, I’m not usually too nervous about heights or being enclosed, but, even this one freaked me out! I was in a tiny little pod by myself and it ran a steep line up the mountain. The entire trip took 20 minutes.

I made it to the top of the mounatin and was met with a view of… white?
Thankfully the clouds sporadically cleared in spots and I was met with the most magnificent view I have ever seen.

From the summit there was a trail which led to the very tip of the mountain. I was debating it at first, since the lack of view was rather discouraging. But, I did, and I’m so glad! From the up most point of the mountain I got a full 360 degree view. Mostly clouds, but, again they would occasssionally clear to an amazing view:

On my final day in Salzburg I it. You know what I’m talking about: The Sound Of Music Tour! It was excellent. They took us all around the city to different locations from the film, gave lots of little fun facts about filming, and even drove us quite a distance into the countryside for some amazing scenic views and to see the church where Maria and Georg were married. It was in a beautiful little town where we were given some time to wander around. We saw an actual wedding procession going into the church, and ate apple struddle. It was great!

As I said, I’m on my way out of Austria. Quite sad. And by the time I actually have Internet and get this posted I’ll be in Venice. Which, isn’t so sad! I’ll be there until Wednesday at which point I’ll be flying back to Ireland for 5ish days. Orla and I have quite a lot of concerting planned, which I’m excited about!

I also can’t believe that I’m at the halfway mark of my trip. It’s strange- It feels like it’s flown by, but at the same time, it feels like forever since I left home. I had a couple days last week where I was so fed up with travelling and thinking “I’m ready to go home”. Thankfully that passed and I’m feeling energetic and good to go! I think I just hate the actual travelling portion of travelling! Airports, train stations, lugging around baggage, waiting around, boredom, all that. Sadly though, I don’t have a TARDIS, so such things are unaviodable.

Now I’m just writing to kill time on the train, so I’ll leave it here!

Thanks for reading!

Added at time of posting:

I made it to Venice! What an incredible city. And my B&B is in a fantastuic